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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: Planning director’s plight not at top of my mind

Spokane may never get the straight skinny behind last week’s forced resignation of city planning director Scott Chesney.

Some mysteries (i.e. Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, KFC’s secret spices …) are probably better off unknown.

Currently, however, the top Chesney theories circulating City Hall are …

1. Gypsy Curse.

2. Chesney on several occasions failed to address his boss, Jan Quintrall, with the required, “Your Highness.”

3. Planning director? Who gives a ($#%^) about a planning director?

I’m tending to go with No. 3 partly because of the recent cold snap. Like every cold snap since the legendary Winter of ’69, this one has caught me completely unprepared.

I’m embarrassed to admit this. But despite the repeated warnings from Tom Sherry and all the other TV weather dweebs, I once again left my garden hoses strewn about the backyard in a state of twisty frozenness.

And that’s not all. Adding to my preoccupied mental state is this:

At 9:55 a.m. on Tuesday, my beautiful daughter, Emily, gave birth to a healthy, 7-pound girl: Ronan Grace Berry.

I know. That makes my lovely wife, Sherry, and me grandparents.

Sometime later this month, we plan to travel to San Francisco to meet this kid and celebrate her arrival with Emily and Shane, my fine son-in-law, who played a significant part in this although I try not to dwell on that.

So you can see how the plight of a civic bureaucrat would take a back seat to busted water pipes and the joyous anticipation of being able to help warp a fresh young mind.

That said, I was surprised by the way Mayor David Condon dug in his heels to defend the Chesney sayonara.

“I represent the entire city,” huffed Boy Mayor in our news story about his reaction. “Not a handful of developers.”

Easy there, big fella.

Playing tough guy may be wise when you’re throwing down against developers who specialize in putting up hot tub/spa motels with hourly rates.

But Chesney supporters read like a “Who’s Who” of Lilac City progress.

As in …

Walt Worthy of Grand Hotel Spokane and Davenport Hotel fame.

Dave Black, the guy who brought Target to the South Hill.

Jim Frank, president of Greenstone Corp., which is developing Kendall Yards.

Ron Wells, the man behind the Ridpath renovation.

In their eyes, this city planner was a real asset to the city.

Chesney “has helped me immeasurably with this current project,” Worthy said in one of our stories. “That department has improved more under his guidance than you will ever know.”

There’s always the chance, of course, that Condon knows what he’s doing.

But this could also be another installment of “One Term at a Time,” our three-act reality show about Spokane mayors.

Act One is about hope.

Mayor takes office. Mayor fulfills several campaign promises. Mayor buys new drapes for the office.

Act Two is about overconfidence.

Mayor likes power. Mayor gets cocky. Mayor stubbornly defends unpopular decisions.

Act Three is really short.

It always takes place on election night and there’s just one word of dialogue.


I don’t know. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Condon has moved into Act Two with this Chesney thing.

I like the mayor and I’d help him if I could. But I’ve got other things on my mind.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman- Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or dougc@

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